12 Big Questions Ahead of The 2023 Cricket World Cup

Has it already been four years? It only feels like yesterday that Ian Smith was calling the final moments of the greatest World Cup final in sporting history. England defeated New Zealand by the barest of margins in the showpiece game in 2019, and cricket fans across the globe are ready to do it all again. The 203 Cricket World Cup is here, and the tournament promises to be the most fascinating yet. As usual, there are more questions than answers heading into the event.

Cricket is a sport unlike any other. The game’s nature lends itself to stories, with ebb and flow an inherent part of every match. The 2023 Cricket World Cup is a perfect storm of this generation and the next, with names new and old looking to leave their mark on this most individualistic of team sports. What are the major stories heading into the 2023 Cricket World Cup?

1. Can India Cope With The Pressure?

India flag at Cricket World Cup
Image Credit: Tourism Victoria from Australia – Cricket World Cup 2015, CC BY 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

In the vast sporting world, the pressure faced by the Indian cricket team is on another level entirely. Cricket is often referred to as a religion in India, but the truth is it is so much more than that. India thrived under pressure when hosting the 2011 Cricket World Cup, winning the tournament in magnificent circumstances. Can they do it again?

In sports, pressure can either create heartbreak or legends. At the 2023 World Cup, Virat Kohli and company will be under the microscope like no other team in international sport.

2. Can England Defend The Trophy?

2019 World Cup winning England Cricket team with PM Theresa May
Image Credit: BBC News – CC BY 3.0 / Wiki Commons / 2019 World Cup winning England Cricket Team.

England won the 2019 in thrilling circumstances, defeating New Zealand in the tournament’s greatest final by the barest of margins. That win resulted from four years of development and planning, but can they repeat that triumph in India? Eoin Morgan has gone, with Jos Buttler leading a squad bolstered by the return of Test captain Ben Stokes.

The DNA of the side is similar to 2019, but will Buttler’s men cope with the pressure of defending the trophy?

3. Are The Aussies Flying Under The Radar?

Australia Cricket World Cup Final 2015
Image Credit: Tourism Victoria from Australia – Cricket World Cup Final 2015, CC BY 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

Is it possible for Australia to fly under the radar? Only the bravest commentator is betting against Pat Cummins and company missing the semi-finals, yet most consider the Aussies a step below the favorites. Australia’s side is an excellent balance of youth and experience, and this could be the last hurrah for players like Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, and Mitchell Starc.

It will be the end for David Warner, and the opener will want to go out with a bang.

4. Are New Zealand The New South Africa?

Kane Williamson of New Zealand in Cricket World Cup 2019
Image Credit: Mark Lockett – CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wiki Commons / New Zealand in Cricket World Cup 2019.

New Zealand is always there or thereabouts in tournaments, but at what point does the team’s inability to cross the line become a problem? They were denied in the cruelest of circumstances four years ago, in what might have been their best chance to win a World Cup. Kane Williamson is unlikely to make the tournament, leaving a big hole in their batting line-up.

Would a place in the semi-finals be considered a success for New Zealand or yet another failure?

5. Come To Think of It, Nobody Is Talking About South Africa

South African supporters at Cricket World cup
Image Credit: Percita from Canberra, Australia – CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

Sticking with teams that can’t get over the finish line, where exactly is South Africa heading into the tournament? The days of the Proteas being considered potential winners are over, but could the lack of expectation be a positive for Temba Bavuma and his men?

The team has plenty of talent, and any side featuring Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and Lungi Ngidi should be taken seriously. Don’t sleep on South Africa.

6. One Final Run for The Big Four

Batsman hitting cricket ball at tournament
Image Credit: ahmad.faizal / Shutterstock.

While their reputation as the Big Four has primarily come from Test cricket, the specter of the four best batters of a generation looms large over the white ball game. Kohli, Root, Smith, and Williamson aren’t alone at the top of the mountain now, and the 2023 World Cup might be the last dance for the three that make it.

With a new generation of superstars coming through, who will shine brightest from the Big Four? Will they show the young pretenders the difference between great and legendary?

7. How Far Can Bangladesh Go?

Bangladesh cricket fans
Image Credit: Tourism Victoria from Australia – India v Bangladesh CWC15 quarter final at the MCG, CC BY 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

Will Bangladesh ever have a better opportunity to make a real splash at a World Cup? Shakib Al Hasan and his charges will relish playing in relatively familiar conditions, and the squad is packed with experience and quality. The days of Bangladesh being massive underdogs can’t last forever, and the team should be looking at a semi-final berth with absolute confidence.

Winning the trophy might be a step too far, but the 2023 World Cup could be the making of Bangladesh.

8. Is Home Dominance a Thing of The Past?

Mashrafe Mortaza of Bangladesh 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup
Image Credit: Quinn Rooney – CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wiki Commons / 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Until franchise cricket came along, familiarity with conditions was a significant factor. Globalization has changed the game, and the prospect of a lengthy tournament in the subcontinent is more manageable than it once was. Players from England, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa are no strangers to Indian conditions at this point.

Does that mean playing at home is no longer an advantage? Familiarity is one thing, but performing is another entirely.

9. What Is Success for The Netherlands and Afghanistan?

Afghanistan Cricket Team
Image Credit: Harrias – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wiki Commons / Afghanistan Cricket Team 2010.

Eight of the ten teams taking part can make a real argument for making the semi-finals. Afghanistan and the Netherlands are on the outside looking in, although both will be confident of causing a shock or two in the group stage.

Afghanistan will be particularly dangerous, although it is unlikely that they can provide enough shocks to make the semi-finals. The Netherlands shocked the world by qualifying, but could that dream turn into a nightmare?

10. Is The Format Correct?

Sign cricket bats
Image Credit: DesiBoy101 – Own work, CC BY 4.0 / Wiki Commons.

Despite being around for almost 50 years, the Cricket World Cup has never settled on a suitable format. Many variations have been tried, and 2023 will be the second straight round-robin take on the 1992 World Cup. The format makes sense if the tournament is about the best taking on the best, but cricket has grown since 1992. Restricting the tournament to just ten teams seems counter-intuitive.

Will 2023 prove that this format is the best option available?

11. A Tournament Without West Indies

West Indies opener Chris Gayle fielding during the 2019 cricket World Cup match against Australia
Image Credit: Dun.can from Leicestershire, UK – CC BY 2.0 / Wiki Commons / 2019 Cricket World Cup.

For the first time in the tournament’s history, the West Indies failed to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup. The team’s failure at the qualifier was greeted with surprise, but this has been coming for a while. Perpetually poorly run and unable to fight back against the lure of franchise cricket, the future looks bleak for the West Indies.

For now, an international tournament without the men in maroon awaits.

12. What Should We Expect From Pakistan?

Pakistani Cricket Team At cricket World Cup 2011
Image Credit: Prime Minister's Office (GODL-India), GODL-India/ Wiki Commons / Cricket World Cup 2011

Predictably unpredictable Pakistan. The cliches about Pakistan being hot and cold are long overplayed, but there remains an element of truth to them. On their day, Pakistan’s combination of talent, aggression, and passion is difficult to match. When things don’t go well, they tend to go disastrously. Pakistan isn’t exactly a dark horse, and a semi-final spot should be the minimum expectation.

Pakistan winning the trophy and Babar Azam to be player of the tournament? You heard it here first. The 2023 Cricket World Cup begins on October 5 when England and New Zealand face off. The final is scheduled for November 19 in Ahmedabad, India.